Image of macrophage with internalized beads.

Macrophages patrol our tissues looking for signs of injury or infection. To avoid collateral damage to the surrounding tissue, macrophages must constantly ignore healthy cells, while still robustly and rapidly detecting pathogens or debris. How does a macrophage measure, add, and subtract all the signals on a target to decide how to respond?

The Morrissey Lab wants to build a detailed mechanistic picture of macrophage signaling, so that we can re-wire macrophage behavior. We use high resolution live imaging, synthetic biology and biochemistry to figure out when and where signaling molecules are activated.

Unlike other immune cells, macrophages are adept at penetrating solid tumors, where they can either promote tumor progression or execute anti-tumor activities like engulfing cancer cells or secreting cytotoxic cytokines. We aim to use our mechanistic knowledge of macrophage signaling to design more effective immunotherapies.

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